When Larian Studios released Divinity: Original Sin back in June 2014, it was so critically acclaimed that gamers and reviewers alike start to wonder how is the game ever going to be topped. With its excellent storytelling, combat features and mod support, Original Sin was often touted as one of the best RPGs ever made. Larian has got its work cut out on how to improve on an already excellent game when the studio announced the sequel, titled Divinity: Original Sin 2, in August 2015. This long awaited news has got everyone excited and it shows when Larian’s Kickstarter campaign for Original Sin 2 managed to reach over 2 million dollars. Safe to say, the team has done it. And what a masterpiece it was!
There are so many good things I want to say about the game that I have no idea where to start. Nor do I want to summarize them all in just one or two paragraphs because it will not do the game justice. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is arguably one of the finest RPGs I have ever played and that is saying a lot, since I have played countless of RPGs throughout the years. I have to admit one thing though, I have never played the first Original Sin because I do not know much about it back then. I hope with this review that you my dear readers will not do the same mistake and skip over this game.
Let me start off by explaining what Divinity: Original Sin 2 is all about. You take on the role of a Sourcerer in a time set centuries after the events of the first Original Sin. The son of the former Divine Lucian, Bishop Alexandar has declared all Sourcerers to be criminals and has launched campaigns to exterminate them. You must band together with your fellow Sourcerers to defeat him. Like any other RPGs, at the start of the game you can choose your character based on race and class. Unlike any other RPGs though, with Original Sin 2 you can have the option of selecting one of six Origin characters, each with his or her own background stories. Choosing an Origin characters will give you extra quests as compared to custom characters.
Here’s the beauty of it. Each class or Origin will also directly affect your gameplay. For example if you choose the Undead class or the Origin character Fane, NPCs will either attack or run away from you on sight unless you have a mask on. Dialogues and conversations with party members and NPCs will also vary based on class. That’s right folks, in addition to the normal Human, Elf, Dwarf and Lizard race you can also choose the Undead for that extra challenge. Each Origin character have his or her own origin story which you can listen to at the character creation stage. As for me, because I have always been a fan of Rogues (dual-wielding backstabbers FTW), I went for Fane the Undead Rogue just to spice things up.
Now, let’s talk about the gameplay. On the basis of it, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a table-top dialogue driven RPG with turn-based combat. What it means by dialogue driven is that whatever you choose when conversing with an NPC will have consequences. So whether you will fight or not depends on your answers so choose your words wisely. One tip I can give to you is to save frequently, especially at the beginning of the game. At this stage you will encounter enemies way out of your league and I have lost count of the amount of times I have to reload my save game even though I set my difficulty to ‘Classic’, which is at Tier 2. Some of you may not like turn-based combat but for slow thinkers like me, it is a blessing. I can have all the time to think of what to do next without having to worry about missed spells and chances.
Speaking of combat, Original Sin 2 allows environmental interactions whenever you cast elemental-based magic spells and arrows. Fire spells combust when they come in contact which accelerants such as oil and poison, water spells put out fires and electric spells shock enemies when they are in contact with water. Not only that, your character will also react accordingly to whatever effect he or she is currently under. For example if you are the Undead, not only are you immune to bleeding, you will also actually heal if you come in contact with poison. Larian really put a lot of thoughts into the game’s combat system and it shows because Divinity: Original Sin 2 has some of the finest spell effects and combat mechanism I have ever seen in an RPG. The combat mechanism is something you should take note of because of its realism, you can actually heal or hurt your allies with your spells depending on how they react to spells.
That’s not all to it though. The game’s combat system actively encourages players to be creative and to think out of the box when engaged in battle. Just like the table-top masterpiece Dungeons and Dragons, you are encouraged to try to use the environment to your advantage when the going gets tough. You see a volcanic slug getting healed by fire? Throw a water balloon or a bucket full of water at it. Your Undead is low in health? Make it walk in a puddle of poison. You want to make friends with beasts instead of fighting them? Make your character talk to animals via the Pet Talk skills. The possibilities are endless, and that is why Divinity: Original Sin 2 in my opinion has one of the best combat mechanism in the RPG genre.
Another aspect of the game that the developers took note of is the controls for the PC version. In addition to the standard keyboard mouse combo and Xbox controls, Larian also added the option for PS4 controllers. Now that might not seem much but it means the world to gamers like me who use PS4 controllers for some games and that alone earned another plus point in my book. Other developers should take note, by making games as user-friendly as possible you can and will earn loyal customers. Speaking of user-friendly, the controls for Original Sin 2 is comparatively easy to learn and manage and after a few tries, you will get used to it. Even if you somehow forget at one point, there are tutorials that will help you along the way.
Like all good RPGs, Divinity: Original Sin 2 encourages players to explore the world. Exploration rewards in the form of XP gains are given whenever players discover a new place whether or not it’s part of the story. In Fort Joy alone there are many caves and underground dungeons to explore, not to mention a Fighter’s Arena below the camp. When I first bought the game, it took me about 8 hours just to escape the fort due to its massive map size. Rivellon though is an entire new ball game. It is filled with hidden places, caves and mysteries and how you find them depends on how you interact with the NPCs. The leveling system can be considered generous in the sense that the XP gained from combat and exploration are rewarded equally to all party members. For example, if you make any changes to your party, the incoming member will get all the XP gained by the previous active party members.
If you are the type of gamer who gets easily sidetracked by side quests and missions like yours truly, you will feel right at home with this game. What I love most about the quests in Original Sin 2 is that they are not as straight forward as normal RPG quests. Just like finding hidden places, how you go through and complete the missions depends on your interactions. Bear in mind though that because anything is possible in this game, you might at some point accidently kill an NPC that is vital to the quest. Don’t worry though because this game allows you to rectify your mistakes. Looting an important NPC for example will normally lead you back in the correct direction. There are a lot of quests in Rivellon and beyond, and I do mean a lot. Keeping track of them in your journal can be very daunting at times but its complexity is a welcome feature as it shows the connected nature of the world.
When you select an Origin character as your main, in addition to the set main storyline, you will also embark on quests that are unique to each Origin character. If you think that you are going to miss out on say, Lohse’s story if you choose Beast for example well fret not. As the game progresses, the other characters that you did not select will eventually join you on your adventure so you can still indirectly take part in their story, depending of course on which character is currently in your party. Your companions will assist you in your journey while undertaking quests of their own. Bear in mind however that this is not your average run-of-the-mill party-based RPG. In true Larian fashion, there is a bit of a twist in the party system. Each hero have his or her own divine sponsor and if you do not keep them in your good books, they will leave your party and eventually betray you.
There is more to the game than just the main story campaign though. Its multiplayer mode allows you to run a co-op campaign with 3 of your mates. Of course with the combination of friendly fire and the chance to sabotage, you can be sure that co-op modes will always end with trigger-happy members ruining your carefully-executed plans by killing everything and everyone on sight. I learned this the hard way. In my first co-op campaign, my team member purposely started a fight with an enemy three levels above us by throwing a boulder at it. It did not end well. There is also a Game Master mode that allows you to us the game’s assets to create your own table-top adventures. The variety of easy-to-use tools at your disposal enables you to create campaigns of various difficulties and length. You are only limited by your own imagination.
If I can summarize the visual graphics of Divinity: Original Sin 2 in one word it would be this, gorgeous. It is such a beautiful game that I can help but be mesmerized by it. When I saw the trailer the other day I was in two minds on whether or not I should buy it because I was afraid that my graphics card couldn’t handle it. Well I am so glad I did because not only was this game one of the most beautiful I have seen but it is also one of the most optimized for the PC. My 4-year old graphics card can run the game on Ultra settings without much hiccups. There were some stutters here and there but that was to be expected. Everything about the game is so beautifully detailed that its price tag of $44.99 is considered a massive bargain.
I have read that people reported minor graphical bugs in the game but I have yet to experience any. Even if I did, it will do nothing to change my overly positive opinions about this game. I am enjoying myself so much that other games will have to take a backseat for now. I love every single thing about this game, from its variety of quests and missions and beautiful visuals to its unpredictable NPCs and combat nature. All of these things combined to make Divinity: Original Sin 2 an RPG at its finest.